A Golden State was founded in 2019 beneath the Cascade Mountains in Northern California. CEO and Co-Founder Nishant Reddy and Rob “Bear” Masterson, Chief of Cultivation and Co-Founder, are responsible for the unique array of genetics you see from A Golden State today. It is now available in over 100 shops across its home state, with a loyal following that comes back for its decadent and hard-to-find terpene profiles. Its most popular strains include Carmel Apple, Lava Flower, Night Sky, Sunbeam, Woods, Silver Cloud, and Honey Flower.
The growers are highly skilled in the art of phenotype hunting, which refers to popping unique strains or “cultivars” in seeds, crossing new flavors, and finding the perfect balance of effects and terpenes in each new iteration of a strain. It’s a time-consuming practice to stabilize these new phenos, and a labor of love. “With cannabis and genetics, nothing happens fast,” says Masterson. “Our genetics are proprietary, and they have been bred and hand selected through years of painstaking work. We have been developing our male plants for years, especially focusing on unique aromas, tastes, and most importantly, euphoric experiences.”
Masterson says the brand’s extensive research and development process for new cultivars starts with a blueprint. “We identify the strain profile we are breeding for; we select the parents and start the pollination or reversal, feminized seeds versus regular seeds,” he says. A Golden State then runs multiple breeding areas at one time and only pollinates naturally, allowing natural male-to-female pollination in each individual room.
“The fun really kicks off once we start the pheno-hunting,” says Masterson. “We’ve personally hunted and selected every strain from a Rolodex of thousands of seeds.” A Golden State brings thousands of new crosses through its pheno program each year. Out of all these cultivars, less than 1 % of the strains meet their team’s rigorous 7-step process to make into an A Golden State jar.
“If it makes the shortlist, we send the contenders off for potency and terp testing,” says Masterson. “More importantly we have a ‘terp sommelier’ group, that we’ve personally chosen, made up of some of the most educated, passionate cannabis individuals in the industry. We have smoke reports where a grading system is used—only the absolute best and unique genetics are for A Golden State.”
Mountain Shadows is the newest cultivar A Golden State is dropping to consumers and showcasing at Hall of Flowers on May 3 & 4, 2023. The new flavor is a cross between Animal Cookies and Melonade x MAC. “We could not be more excited,” says Masterson. “Finding this particular genotype was over a year in the making. She is extremely unique and smells like salted, buttery, intoxicating movie theater popcorn.”
A Golden State says this Mountain Shadows cultivar is unique, offering rare traits that consumers have come to expect from the premium brand. Mountain Shadows was bred in-house and is a hybrid that will surely make waves in the hyper-competitive cannabis market in California. A Golden State used a fan-favorite, their old-school cut of Animal Cookies from 2008, and pollinated her with a MAC x Melonade male. The resulting flower offers dense, lavender buds covered in “a powdered-sugar white frost,” says Masterson. “What truly sets it apart from other purple strains is the diverse and balanced terpene profile. She tastes exactly like she smells,” the head cultivator tells us. “It’s one of those strains you can’t stop smelling, and unlike anything currently in the cannabis market.”
Is there a secret sauce that makes A Golden State’s plants so happy? “The care we give our plants is unparalleled,” says Masterson. “Each plant, whether in the vegetative stage or flowering stage, gets physically touched each and every day. This ensures consistent quality among batches and the plants get the exact amount of water and nutrients they need and crave.”
A Golden State grows exclusively indoors in state-of-the-art hydroelectric facilities. The brand’s cultivation managers have been working together for over a decade. “We never cut corners, and are constantly working to perfect our process to get the most out of every strain and plant,” Masterson says. “We focus on growing the best possible flower with the highest concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes. We create ideal microclimates unique to each strain utilizing years of collected data analytics to expertly manipulate the growing environment, lighting, and nutrient program throughout the vegetative and flowering cycle ensuring maximum flavors and aromas.”
Masterson attributes the brand’s success to pristine growing environments which allow each cultivar to mature into its full genetic potential. The patience in this process, in turn, brings out incredible color variations in A Golden State’s strains. Masterson says the water is another sacred ingredient in A Golden State’s process: “Biomineral nutrients are paired with our incredible mineral-rich water source from Mount Shasta snowmelt at our local reservoir.”
A Golden State just launched its Solventless Live Rosin vape last year, the first foray into concentrates for the brand. A Golden State is launching 2 new cultivars, Snow Dream & Lava Flower on 4/20, followed by its first release of genetics developed specifically for Live Rosin Vaporizer, Summer Storm. How has the new live rosin offering worked for the brand so far? “Sales have been great,” says Masterson. “We’ve been pleased with the overwhelmingly positive consumer response! We sold out within a week of our initial launch of Caramel Apple and Woods at all Sweet Flower locations last summer.”
The brand applies the same meticulous ethos of flower to its vapes. They focus on producing small-batch, single-source, whole-flower which is then freshly frozen before extraction. The solventless live rosin is extracted from the flower using only ice, water, pressure, and heat. The master alchemists at A Golden State then control the process every step of the way to ensure consistency with each batch. A Golden State even has a recycling program in place for the batteries to help reduce the carbon footprint.
Alongside the rare Mountain Shadows flower, A Golden State will be showcasing its new vape strains, Lava Flower (#2 most sold strain in the state in 2022 according to Headset), as well as Snow Dream, at Hall of Flowers this May.
A Golden State’s CEO and Co-Founder Nishant Reddy offers a valuable piece of parting advice to other cannabis entrepreneurs on how to stand out and survive this moment: “Being in cannabis is a double-edged sword, and it’s not for the faint of heart. The industry is a beautiful and fulfilling space, with lots of talented individuals. However, given all the hurdles, for example, regulatory inefficiencies, and lack of capital, it’s a particularly difficult environment to operate a business, let alone a profitable business.”
“If you think starting a cannabis business is an easy path to a pot of gold, you’re clearly mistaken,” says Reddy. “But for those entrepreneurs who are truly passionate about the plant, have the fuel to sustain a marathon because you’re in this for the long haul, and aren’t afraid of a stressful, bumpy ride—don’t give up on your dreams and stick it out.”
Reddy is an optimist at heart and believes for cannabis entrepreneurs, over time, things will improve. “The headwinds will slowly turn into tailwinds and this industry will start to be treated like any other legal industry,” says the CEO. Until that day arrives, he advises people to invest in differentiated products, and focus on creating a healthy, sustainable business. “It’s critical to develop strong business fundamentals early on, especially given the cash-intensive nature of the industry,” says Reddy. “From there, operate lean, focus on profitability. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find organic growth and build a consumer base that can help you reach the next rungs of the ladder. There are no shortcuts, success in this industry comes down to good ole’ fashioned hard work and discipline…rinse and repeat.”